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WNBA

The Carleton Effect: How Chatham, Ontario's Bridget Carleton has helped turn the Minnesota Lynx offence around

On a nightly basis in the bubble, we've been able to see Canadians perform on the big stage and grab national attention.

From Jamal Murray to Lugentz Dort, the North has been represented well during the NBA playoffs.

Over in the Wubble, another Canadian has been taking the basketball world by storm. If you've been paying attention than you already know that Bridget Carleton has come into her own and helped the Minnesota Lynx to a 13-6 record and their 10th straight playoff appearance.

Carleton may be the best-kept secret in Canadian hoops, it's time for her to get the recognition she deserves.

Earlier this season, Carleton made her first career start in the W, she went off for a career-high 25 points in a win. Carleton's insertion in the starting lineup came due to injury, but her injection in the rotation came out of necessity.

Carleton played sparingly in the Lynx's first three games and despite their 2-1 record, Minnesota's offence didn't have balance, or ball movement or the shooting it needed. Through those three games, the Lynx were averaging just 75.3 points per game - dead last in the league - and shot just 28.8 from 3-point range. Two things Carleton would've been able to help remedy given the opportunity - shooting and scoring.

"She's been one of the better 'have-fun' players on our team," Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said after Carleton's career-game. "She's been really good for the personality of our team. Obviously, this was important timing for this game. It was a great opportunity for her, and she seized the moment."

And seize the moment she has.

With Carleton now in the rotation, the Lynx have gone from one of the worst offences in the league to one of the best. In the Lynx's last 16 games - 12 of which Carleton started - Minnesota is averaging 107.3 points per 100 possessions. Only the Seattle Strom have a better offensive rating during that time. Over that stretch, the Lynx are also shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range, good for third in the league in that window. It's the Carleton effect.

Most knew that Carleton would provide a scoring punch and much-needed shooting to the Lynx offence. After all, she is the second all-time leading scorer at her Alma-mater Iowa State where she shot 37.1 percent from 3 in her senior year there. Bridget was a bucket in college, but what made her a great college player was her playmaking ability - she averaged 4.0 assists her senior year - and it's her playing making ability that has helped Minnesota the most.

According to WNBA Stats, with Carleton on the floor, Minnesota is averaging 25.8 assists per 100 possessions. When she sits that number falls to 20.6.

Naphessa Collier is the team's best playmaker, in fact, she's one of the best in the league. But having the burden of scoring at a high clip and creating for others does take its toll. Rookie of the Year candidate Crystal Dangerfield and Odyssey Sims - who missed part of the season after giving birth to her son - have helped, but Carleton's unselfishness has certainly rubbed off on everyone. It's the wrinkle to Carleton's game that goes most under-appreciated.

In a game against Las Vegas, Carleton tied Stacy Dales' record for most assists by a Canadian with 10 dimes per Brian Swane of the Basketball Show.

Under the constant smile lives a competitor that put in immense work in the offseason and through a pandemic to be able to help lift the ceiling for a perennial powerhouse in the W. What we've seen this season is a stronger, more athletic Carleton and the Lynx are now reaping the benefits.

Canada, it's now your turn to stand up and take notice of what Carleton is doing at a high level in the world's best league.

And don't worry about being late to the party - Bridget Carleton is only 23, and she's only just begun.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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